Twitter’s scatological response to journalists is unacceptable

Journalists who email Twitter’s press department for information about the company or to contact one of its representatives are now sent an automated response containing nothing but a poop emoji – 💩. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this latest expression of Twitter owner Elon Musk’s contempt for the media.

This “communication strategy” by a social media platform with more than 200 million daily users was announced in a tweet by Musk in person. If the compulsive tweeter is to be believed, he would now seem to be the company’s sole spokesperson. Given that Twitter has shed half of its employees, does this mean that it has closed its press department? 

RSF is appalled by this childish prank by the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, who bought Twitter less than six months ago and is displaying extraordinary disrespect towards journalists and the media.

Elon Musk's history with journalists gives a unique flavour to this latest contemptuous insult that he is sending them. This desire to humiliate journalists in the manner of schoolyard bully is absolutely unworthy of someone in charge of a major information platform.

Vincent Berthier
Head of RSF’s Tech Desk

This latest provocation is typical of Musk’s attitude to journalism. This aspect of his approach is reflected not only in this antics but also in the decision to close the Twitter accounts of certain journalists, and in one of his old dreams of setting up a platform called Pravda (named after the Soviet Communist Party’s official mouthpiece) to grade journalists and humiliate the press.

According to a document published by Vox said to be the transcript of a meeting between Musk and Twitter employees before he bought the company, Musk told them he wanted to acquire Twitter in part because it would allow him to communicate directly with the public, without having to write press releases whose content is processed by journalists before being seen by the public.

So, the billionaire businessman’s display of contempt for journalists is not an isolated episode, it’s not something that is completely new. It is clearly the result of an entrenched personal attitude.

When RSF contacted Twitter to asked about Musk’s attitude towards journalists and the importance of their work for democracy, the social media platform responded: “💩”.

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Updated on 22.03.2023